Leave.EU founder Arron Banks denies campaign took Russian money

Leave.EU founder Arron Banks denies campaign took Russian money

Arron Banks, who helped fund the Leave.EU Brexit campaign, will face MPs' questions on Tuesday about claims linking him to Russian officials.

Mr Banks, who was co-founder of the Leave.

The watchdog said the group - which was separate from the official pro-Brexit group Vote Leave - failed to report "at least" £77,380 it spent.

The suggestion that Banks meet Povarenkin followed a meeting with Russia's ambassador to Britain, Alexander Yakovenko, in November 2015.

Addressing calls for a police inquiry on Nigel Farage's LBC radio show, Mr Banks said: "What's the crime?" It would be nice.

The businessman and Brexit-backer said anti-Brexit journalists assumed "there must be a conspiracy" because he and his colleague Andy Wigmore, a diplomat, had lunched with the Russian ambassador, but "there has been no definitive evidence of anything".

Relations between the United Kingdom and Russia are at their lowest point in decades since the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Salisbury in March.

Mr Paisley said they had an "entertaining lunch" but there was "no caviar or vodka" - a reference to alleged Russian links.

Meanwhile, it appears Banks has pulled out of a scheduled appearance on Newsnight where he may have faced less friendly interviewers.

Mr Banks and Leave.EU communications chief Andy Wigmore denied any wrongdoings and dismissed the concerns.

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So, it is hard for the committee to know if we should take all of their answers seriously when it comes to data sharing and misuse, campaign spending and their meetings with high-ranking Russian officials'.

Mr Banks also confirmed to MPs that the Brexit-backing group held talks with controversial data firm Cambridge Analytica and meant to use its services if it had been selected as the official Leave campaign - which it was not.

"I'm not going to be lectured about my business interests".

He also revealed he had lodged a complaint with the Electoral Commission about their investigation into him and Leave.EU, restricting what could be asked by the committee.

The disgraced data-mining company Cambridge Analytica, which was accused of illegally harvesting Facebook profiles to sway the USA election and the Brexit vote, pitched for work with Leave. As for the gold mining project, Mr. Banks said he checked it out and decided not to invest.

"In light of the fact that, according to Guido, you had some hospitality from Putin's number one man in the United Kingdom, do you not think you are a bit conflicted questioning us about this today?" he said.

Mr Banks confirmed to the committee that he had been introduced to Cambridge Analytica by former Trump aide Steve Bannon.

Mr. Wigmore described his role during the referendum as an "agent provocateur" who made fun of people to get attention.

The MPs are also investigating the work of Cambridge Analytica, the political consultancy at the centre of a scandal over the misuse of millions of Facebook users' data. "You said 20 minutes and we've gone right past 20 minutes".

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